Oztrail Camper


We were so enthusiastic about our 198 ERDE trailer and the 12,500-kilometre holiday we had just completed that Steve asked us if we would mind writing a testimonial for them. Delighted, I hope it helps some of you in your decision-making.

We had booked a one-week holiday for June 2010 at the luxury Palm Cove Resort, not far from Cairns, in Northern Queensland and we both decided we would like to ‘do the top end’ and not simply fly. Since we retired in 2002 we had been up the coast to Broome many times calling at all the little out of the way places, both by Toyota Hi-Ace Van, 16’ Jayco Caravan pulling with a Nissan Patrol 4500 Ti and by rented motor home. All the above have their merits but this time we thought we would take a small tent for emergencies and rent chalets and stay in hotels when available.

That was our game plan until we went to the Caravan and Camping show in Perth and started looking at the merits of a camper trailer. There are millions of them to choose from. With all the bells and whistles, you can even kiss over $65,000 goodbye – for a camper trailer! However, we were now interested and came across the Tour-Lite trailer range.

They looked very neat and simple from the design point of view. They are fully imported from Europe, come flat-packed and are assembled here. In the event of crash damage, the parts can be simply unbolted and replaced with new ones! Looking good! The camper top can be removed by simply undoing four bolts and lifting it off and you then have a genuine HEAVILY GALVANISED 7x4-tipping trailer for future use. It comes with a spare wheel and instead of leaf springs they come with swinging arm suspension with shock absorbers so the unladen weight is only 290Kg. To be honest, with those little wheels, we had our doubts about whether it would survive some of our outback roads but Steve, the sales manager, assured us that their customers had been right around Australia with no problems. Both the front and the rear ends of the trailer open fully, which is really rather good for getting at all the junk you don’t need but carry anyway. Jerry cans and safety/recovery equipment can be stored at the front, with food, water and utensils being easily available just inside the rear tailgate. In the space left over we stored the annex and poles and other vital necessities like snorkelling, fishing and bird watching gear. By chance, the plastic storage bins on wheels fit in the underside of the camper rather well.

We bought the Getaway Plus, with annexe, floor mats, and green annexe floor rubber netting and jockey wheel lock for somewhere under $5,500 at the show. The only modification we made was to buy a long stainless steel 4mm woven rope with a loop at each end which could go through all the trailer clamps holes and be joined with a combination lock to make the whole setup reasonably secure. Make sure you carry an extra wheel brace for the odd size of the trailer hub nuts!

At the end of April I left for Darwin with my wife Chris to follow a week later by plane. We had never been past Kununurra before so I took the inland road stopping the first night at Meekatharra and on to Port Hedland. We caught up in Darwin and started our three-month holiday together. Kakadu, Lichfield National Park and the Corroboree Billabong, Katherine, Mt Isa, the Morning Glory, Atherton Tablelands, The Daintree, Cairns, The Alice, Uluru, The Olgas, and the road through Warburton, and Cosmo Newbury to Laverton will remain lifetime memories for us. (If anyone would like details of our holidays or would like any information you are welcome to contact us on icu@westnet.com.au ).

Leaving Northern Queensland, most people would go via Townsville and the Barkly highway to Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, which runs all the way to Adelaide. We decided to go on minor roads to Boulia and then to Alice Springs, as it was a lot shorter.

We travelled this route in early July so the roads were basically dry. From Winton to Boulia the road has deep ruts and soft red loam then hard unforgiving gibber stone sections where you could go faster but sometimes your head would almost bang on the roof, the last think you are watching for is how the trailer is travelling. We stopped frequently to check but it never missed a beat. There were also multiple sections of a few kilometres of asphalt and then back to the rough roads. From Boulia to the Alice it’s a very minor track. No asphalt at all. At the Alice and all the way to Uluru you are back in civilisation with good roads.

Arriving at Alice Springs, do we go down to Adelaide and across the Nullabor and across that way to Kalgoorlie and thence home to Perth or basically back the way we had come? Boring. We worked out that going across the Great Central Desert Track to Laverton would save about 2000+ kilometres so that’s the way we decided to go. BUT would the trailer really be able to take a 2000 kilometres battering over three days across some of the harshest roads in the world, heavily corrugated in sections, steep, multiple floodways and sharp as knives with gibber stones?

Not many people in Perth would realise that Ayers Rock is some 500 kilometres from Alice Springs. There is a township/resort at Ayers Rock called Yulara. Anyway, having picked up the WA Permit and the NT Aboriginal Permit to cross their lands, we set off for Laverton. 150 kilometres out there was a loud bang and we shredded the rear inside tyre of the Nissan Patrol. Down to the axle in red dirt after stopping, at 6:00am, 2 degrees C and a strong wind; we changed the spare but we now had no spare and had only just started. We had inner tubes and a compressor but hadn’t bargained on losing a tyre. We decided to travel on and amazingly at Warburton they had a tyre under all the rubbish that would fit. The garage guy advised us to drop the tyres to 25 psi and to keep below 90 mph. We deflated from 45 to 30 psi. He said he had never had a puncture or blow out in ten years on the road to Laverton yet some people actually carried four spares and shredded the lot! We took his advice and had no further scares. The trailer, on those tiny tyres – not a problem.

ADVANTAGES of a Tour-Lite Camper Trailer.

TOWING – we have seen little 4x4’s towing huge 26 ft, 1.5 tonne monster caravans and it makes us shudder. Overtaking they have no power. Their driving speed is a hazard to other road users and in the event of an emergency stop, they will probably jack-knife and become a fatality. The Tour-Lite is so light at 290 kg unladen that they could tow it easily.

CARAVAN CONVENIENCE - With Pop-top caravans you can hop in the back for a coffee and a snack. Drop the tailgate and do the same with the Tour-Lite.

PARKING - Easier to park the caravan and you are there!
Not so, by the time a caravan has been backed up and parked our trailer is up and we are on our first beer.

CLEARANCE - A caravan has a much higher clearance so less likely to get stuck. Not so, at 290 kg you can simply drag it out or even do it manually. Sometimes when caravanning there is a problem when you are off road as to whether you will be able to turn around even with a smallish 16’ caravan. With the Tour-Lite, unhitch, turn around and re hitch – simple.

STORAGE – Will the garage be long enough and high enough for the caravan or will it sit on the lawn for months? $20-50,000 slowly rotting away? The Tour-Lite is just a regular trailer when the camper top is unbolted, so fits in any garage – stick it in the garage or outside, it is heavily corrosion protected. We also found when we stayed at hotels that they would generally find somewhere for us to park it for a few days whereas it would be difficult with a caravan.

USE BY DATE - COST. Whether a $50-$700 tent, a $3,000 to a $70,000 outback trailer or a $15,000 to $75,000 caravan, one day, you will want to move it on. As petrol gets dearer, (try 4 km to the litre on a Nissan Patrol) the days of long journeys with gas guzzlers towing huge dead-weights is soon to be over and I would forecast a glut of desperate caravan sales in the next five years.

ROAD DAMAGE – When we arrived home we had some pebble dents on the front of the trailer and had managed to wipe off a reflector and had to replace a wire! All that after 12,000 kms – purrfect.

CAMPERTRAILER COMFORT – We were both very impressed with the OzTrail Camper. The double mattress – very big and extraordinarily comfortable. The canvas never leaked at all. The blue mats kept the dust down both and in and outside the trailer.

- Oztrail Camper